'Ministers are facing calls to scrap the “undemocratic farce” of electing hereditary peers as new analysis reveals the average poll only attracts 29 voters.
Ahead of a by-election to replace Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, critics described the system as a “bizarre hangover from feudal times”, where some elections are decided by as few as three voters.
Labour abolished the majority of hereditary peerages in 1999 but around 90 still remain, accounting for some 12 per cent of the House of Lords. In most circumstances, if one dies, quits or retires then the successor is voted for by members of their own party.
Analysis by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) found that the average electorate for normal hereditary by-election is only 32 voters, with only 29 people usually turning out.
The group found that four by-elections had more candidates than electors in recent years – including a by-election for Labour hereditary peers with 11 candidates and only three voters.
Some 3,190 votes have been cast in the last 32 by-elections, which began in 2003, compared to the last 32 Commons by-elections, where 931,725 votes have been cast.
ERS chief executive Darren Hughes said: “These so-called by-elections are an undemocratic farce – and make mockery of our democracy.
“This time, around 25 peers are set to decide which aristocrat remains in parliament to vote on our laws, for the rest of their lives.
“That is not democracy – and it’s time we ended this bizarre hangover from feudal times.'
Read more: Government urged to scrap 'undemocratic farce' of electing hereditary peers where tiny clique of voters choose successor
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